Can I DIY repair this wood finish?

I took my grandmother’s beautiful buffet off my sister’s hands after years in her basement where kids’ drinks and plastic of some kind were set on it and have damaged it. The marks look fairly superficial, so I have hope: half of the marks are barely visible when looked at from above; a few are cloudy from above.

I have some Howard brand carnuba/beeswax protector that I’d like to use after cleaning it up with an orange oil wood cleaner. The instructions say to apply with 0000 steel wool which makes me a little nervous, but I imagine that with a light touch I could buff out some of the marks.

I’ve read that cloudy marks are superficial and could actually be warm-ironed out as the cloudiness is moisture trapped in the finish- this makes me nervous also.

Pics are below- sorry, my text-embedded link-fu is terrible. I even read through the SDMB link guide and couldn’t figure it out.

Any words of caution/warning/advice from those who know better than I do?

Depends on the original finish. Is it polyurethane? If so, you’ll need to sand the whole thing & refinish from scratch. If it’s wax, you can usually re-do just that area.

Ironing may work. There are other tricks you can find online, but I’ve only tried sanding and refinished as suggested above, and ironing.

Oh man I have no idea how it was originally finished- how did they do furniture back in the 40s/50s? My guess would probably be poly.

That looks like a veneer, so be very careful if you sand. And if you try the iron method, put a cloth under between so it doesn’t scorch.

To be honest it probably should be sanded and refinished. There are some marks in the top that show that at some point it was upside down and pressed into something (ridged bed of a truck?) that made little patterned indents. Can a noob attempt a sand/refinish without totally ruining it, or should I consider a repair specialist?

Edited to add:

Agreed, and agreed. For this reason (veneer) I probably shouldn’t try to refinish myself. If I can’t minimize the surface damage and live with that, I’ll call a professional.

Veneer is hard to refinish well and easy to refinish disastrously badly. I would probably take it to a professional myself, and I’ve been doing amateur woodworking for over 30 years.

That’s all I needed to hear- thanks!

If agree that taking it to a pro is the best bet.

Sanding would be used only to remove the finish initially, and if the stain is still there then bleaching the area around the marks and doing some touch up staining is a better approach than trying to sand it out.

Looking around the internet for info on this I see a lot of recommendations to rub various substances on the stain. I wonder if just rubbing it will take those stains away if it’s water trapped in the finish.

I think mayonnaise is one of those DIY “remove water rings” things that I’ve heard the most.

Tiny, sparing amount. Rub around the whole area.

0000 steel wool won’t damage the wood unless you are rubbing for a very long time. But, you could do some serious damage to the finish under the topcoat.

Glad you are going with the advice for professional work, because that’s a gorgeous buffet! Please post again when you have had it restored.

Edit: <nit picking> You can do serious damage with steel wool, if you wipe down with water after, any stuck fibers could rust and stain the wood. wipe down with alcohol or mineral spirits whichever isn’t a solvent for the underlying finish and my original statement remains valid

Have you considered getting a custom table pad made for it?

Just a thought.